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Kidz City, Sheerness, converts to nursery in order to survive

A popular soft play centre that has been closed for months is having to convert into a nursery so it can reopen.

Kidz City in Sheerness, which also has various real-life role-play areas including a pretend play hairdressers, hospital and supermarket, had to shut its doors two days after its first anniversary because of the coronavirus crisis.

Kidz City, Bridge Road, Sheerness, with Carol Sampson and Tammy Wright. Picture: Steve Crispe
Kidz City, Bridge Road, Sheerness, with Carol Sampson and Tammy Wright. Picture: Steve Crispe

Since March 17, Tammy Wright and her mother Carol Sampson, who are behind the business, have not had any income coming in – and such facilities still have no idea when they can reopen.

Tammy, from Warden, said: "The virus was being spoken about one minute and then it was like, bam, everything was dead. We just had no-one coming in so we made the decision to close – then lockdown happened.

"It was going so good as well. We were constantly busy, we had our regular customers and a good reputation."

The 34-year-old said Kidz City had been eligible for a small business grant from Swale council, which covered four months' worth of rent and insurances.

"We're having to change our business model to avoid permanent closure," Tammy said. "We haven't really got any other option at this time, but we are lucky we can change into something else."

Inside Kidz City. Picture: Steve Crispe
Inside Kidz City. Picture: Steve Crispe

The mother-of-three added: "We've applied for the Ofsted application to become registered for a nursery and we've employed a manager."

Tammy said the Bridge Road centre would become a full day nursery, open 7am-7pm Monday to Friday.

"We will be able to have 30 children at any one session," she said. "We would like to open at weekends for play also but, at the moment, we can't. That's something we could look at when the virus has gone".

She added: "Obviously, we'd love soft play areas to be allowed to reopen as normal but, with social distancing rules and the fact children touch absolutely everything, it's impossible.

"If we did, eventually, reopen with more staff to clean and less children to play, it would not be financially viable and it would not be the experience children would want."

Carol added: "We will deliver a wonderful setting for child development and learning, with facilities second to none that the children will thrive and blossom. They will still never want to leave the nursery."

It is hoped Kidz City will reopen between mid-September and early October.

Jobs and nursery places will be posted on the 'KidZ City Ltd' Facebook page.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

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